On Wednesday night, Asheville hosted a red-carpet event for The Hunger Games. Western North Carolina was the setting for much of the film, and the advanced screening honored local organizers, crew and cast. Three hundred fortunate residents were in attendance.
The Hunger Games is based on the internationally bestselling young adult novel of the same name by Suzanne Collins, which recently made headlines again by becoming the top-selling novel of all time on Amazon’s Kindle. As a local author of young adult fiction, I received an invitation from the Xpress to give my own take on the event.
As the Capitol would say, the odds were in my favor.
Asheville’s familiar movers and shakers were present on the Regal Biltmore Grande Stadium’s red carpet. Or, at least, I discovered they were as my husband continued introducing me to them, one after the other. As an official stay-at-home-author — the sort who wears the same dirty pajamas for five days in a row — I kept enthusiastically introducing myself to strangers, only to discover that the person I was speaking to was, for example, congressional candidate Patsy Keever.
But I was distracted by the other half of the attendees. The fervent location scouts, crew and extras who worked on this film when it was known only by its code name: Project Artemis. They carried the real excitement. They dressed in spangles, feathers, silk ties, brooches and sparkling, oversize necklaces. They were the stars.
Upon entering the screening, I passed through several inspection stations, which checked for verboten cell phones. And in the theater itself, men wearing serious suits and Secret Service frowns addressed the audience and held up — what they claimed to be — night-vision goggles.
The film’s distributor wasn’t taking any chances on leaks.
The movie was a faithful adaptation of the novel (Collins was one of the producers and one of the screenwriters), and fans across the world will make this a deserved, smashing success. Jennifer Lawrence shined as the heroic Girl on Fire. And critics everywhere are already expressing relief that the acting, writing and cinematography are significantly stronger than that other famous young-adult series brought to cinema.
But the real highlight of the evening was seeing our home on the big screen. The mountains of North Carolina have never looked so bleak or so grand. And, like the rest of the crowd, I found myself clapping and cheering with joy every time the word “Asheville” appeared during the closing credits.
Photo of Stephanie and Jarrod Perkins from Asheville Citizen-Times. View the full gallery here.
Find local Hunger Games screenings here.
Stephanie Perkins is the author of three young adult novels: Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door (both available now) and Isla and the Happily Ever After (due out in 2013). Go here to learn more.
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